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Telling Numbers: How police relate Muslims and migrants with crime

The question asked was: “In your opinion, to what extent are — a. Upper-caste Hindus, b. OBC people, c. Dalits, d. Tribals, e. Muslims — naturally prone towards committing crimes...” The options were “very much”, “somewhat”, “rarely” and “not at all”.

By: Express News Service | Updated: August 30, 2019 5:48:15 am
How police relate Muslims and migrants with crime Release of Status of Policing in India Report 2019, (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

In the ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019’ prepared by Common cause and Lokniti-CSDS, aspects of which were reported in The Indian Express on August 28 and 29, one key finding was about bias among police personnel in relating Muslims with crime. About half the police personnel surveyed responded that Muslims are likely to be naturally prone towards committing crime (“very much” and “somewhat” combined).

The question asked was: “In your opinion, to what extent are — a. Upper-caste Hindus, b. OBC people, c. Dalits, d. Tribals, e. Muslims — naturally prone towards committing crimes…” The options were “very much”, “somewhat”, “rarely” and “not at all”.

With 14 per cent responding “very much” and 36 per cent responding “somewhat”, the total of 50 per cent for Muslims was far higher than it was for any other community. For upper-caste Hindus, OBCs, Dalits and tribals, the total for “very much” and “somewhat” responses ranged between 30 and 35 per cent.

Some states, such as Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Bihar, had about two-third or more police personnel who held the opinion that the Muslim community is likely (“very much” and “somewhat” combined) to be naturally prone to commit crime. In Uttarakhand, four out of five police personnel had this opinion, the report said.

Police view of migrants

The report refers to the update of the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) in Assam, then goes on to note that anti-migrant sentiment is not restricted to migrants from other countries but also includes migrants from various states within the country. It says police are often partisan in the harassment of these communities, and sets out to quantify this bias on the basis of responses.

Three in every five police personnel perceived migrants as being naturally prone towards committing crimes. This is the total of the responses of “very much” (24 per cent) and “somewhat” (36 per cent). Significantly, in Assam, this bias appered less pronounced than the national average. The total of the “very much” and “somewhat” responses, as compared to 60 per cent nationally, was 49 per cent in Assam, with only 1 per cent responding “very likely” and 48 per cent responding “somewhat”.

The bias against migrants was pronounced in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand, where at least four in every five police personnel believe that migrants from other states are likely to be naturally prone towards committing crimes (“very much” and “somewhat” combined). In Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, about three in four believed so.

Source for all data and tables: Status of Policing in India Report 2019

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